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Xulhaz, Tonoy killers identified

By bdnews24.com
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Investigators have identified five individuals who took part in the killing of the gay rights activists Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy.Detectives are trying to arrest these suspects, an official of the Detective Branch, speaking on condition of anonymity, told bdnews24.com.The official declined to identify himself on the ground, as he put it, that there was an order against giving out the names of officials working on high-profile cases. The police have come by some information on the murders after the arrest ofShariful Islam Shihab, a member of the Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), from Kushtia, said Bahauddin Faruki, the DB officer in charge of the case's investigation.  "Shihab supplied weapons to the killers. We got some important information after he was remanded twice in custody. He is now in prison."  Xulhaz and his friend Tonoy were killed in a machete attack by a gang of assailants, who posing as delivery men, entered Xulhaz's apartment building in Dhaka's Kalabagan on Apr 25.  Xulhaz was a USAID official and also editor of Bangladesh's first LGBT magazine Roopbaan.  The 35-year-old was a cousin of former foreign minister and ruling Awami League joint general secretary Dipu Moni. He studied international relations at the Dhaka University and joined the US embassy in 2007 before taking up what would turn out to be his last assignment at USAID.Tonoy, 26, was involved with the theatre group Lok Natyadal. He worked as a drama trainer for children at an organisation going by the name of PTA.  Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) claimed responsibility for the killings.  The two were murdered for being 'pioneers of practicing and promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh,' said a Twitter post by Mufti Abdullah Ashraf, spokesperson for Ansar Al Islam, AQIS's chapter in Bangladesh.  The anti-terror unit of the police arrested Shihab from Kushtia 19 days after the attack. He had been 'hiding there' after the 'killings' in Dhaka.   "Police have gathered information on the killers after arresting and interrogating members of Ansar Al Islam on various occasions. Then they identified the killers of Xulhaz and Tonoy," said the DB official.  "The killers are in the country. The effort to arrest them is ongoing." Over nearly two years, machete-wielding assailants have killed secular bloggers, authors, publishers, teachers and religious minorities in the country.  Responsibility for most of the murders were claimed by the AQIS or Islamic States, but the government has insisted that the killings were the work of homegrown terrorists.

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